THE HISTORY OF PAPER IN LUCCA (Part II)
The Napoleonic era
In 1807, the 19 factories operating in the Lucca area submitted a petition to the Trade Committee concerning new measures implemented by the Baciocchi family who ruled the Principality of Lucca and Piombino. The complaints concerned the new taxes on rags and the tariffs on “all the other items required for making paper”. Until that time, exported paper had always been exempt from any tax, but now the manufacturers feared going under due to competition, since price had more impact on the market than quality.
The documents available suggest that these issues did not meet with a satisfactory solution, for political and economic reasons in particular. Essentially, throughout the Napoleonic era, the paper industry led a life that was anything but serene. Only with the fall of the Baciocchi family in 1814 did much more protectionist policies return, with zero taxation on exported paper and tax-free imports of raw materials.
In fact, for several decades throughout Europe there was a desperate search for a raw material to substitute the increasingly rare and costly rags. But these efforts would only be rewarded much later with the invention of straw paper.